Men and Sheep

The Foolishness of Men…

Cattlemen will like this sermon.

—<Quote begins>—

Men and Sheep, Psalm 23.

[Psalm is read – AP]

Some years ago, when I was.. in Nevada, my pastorate not only included the… Indian reservation, but the surrounding mining camp and cattle country. And, in one of my… earliest services, I did… take some time to deal with… Christ as our Good Shepherd… and we as the sheep of his pasture.

And after it was over, one of the cattlemen, very kindly, told me that that was not very popular imagery in cattle country. He said that no cattleman likes to be compared to sheep. ‘They are low-down dirty critters!’

He had a point.

Indeed, sheep are… among the dirtiest of animals. The average city dweller, when he reads this psalm, gets entirely the wrong idea! The cattleman was closer to the truth, even though he objected to it.

Our idea of sheep is from pictures of little wooly lambs, newly born, clean and fresh. But, the wool of the sheep picks up dirt. In fact, it will pick up not only dirt, and bits of twigs and pebbles, but gravel. It is so tightly… held together that almost any kind of dirt, thrown up against it by the hooves of other sheep, is caught in it. On top of that, it smells. Sheep are anything but pleasant to be around. And their order is anything but fragrant.

On top of that, sheep are very, very stupid. They do require around-the-clock care. Unless you have sheep in a pen or in a fenced-in pasture that you can keep an eye on, you have to have a herder and sheepdogs, keeping tabs on them twenty-four hours a day. A sheep herder’s life is a difficult one. He has to live with the sheep around the clock, he has to have exceptionally good dogs so, when he gets into the sheep wagon to sleep at night the dogs will have – of course, with his help – gathered the sheep together and bedded them down for the night and the dogs will be on the watch all night long, to make sure that not only no wild animal come after those sheep, but that they don’t wander off.

On top of that, there’s nothing more…irritating than to have any kind of trail, in sheep country. Because the sheep, when they see a trail, they trail. They won’t stop to eat, they’ll just follow the leader right down the trail. And if a leader takes them off a cliff, they’ll all pile up, off that cliff on top of him. Sheep are stupid.

Thus, when God compares us to sheep, He does it as the omnipotent, all-wise God who knows what He’s talking about. He says that men are like sheep. He wasn’t trying, in other words, to be complimentary.

As a result, the cattleman knew far more about the psalm, than the average minister who thinks that it’s such beautiful language, and the average parishioner who thinks that it’s such a sweet figure of speech.

What God is saying when He says that we are sheep, is that, left to ourselves, we are not only dirty, we are not only stupid, but that we are also helpless.

From Rushdoony’s sermon, Men and Sheep

Rushdoony further notes that, even though men are sheep, they are also made in the image of Almighty God. So when they choose the right Shepherd – i.e. not some kind of Mighty Man of the Masses – that Shepherd raises the sheep up to be kings and prophets and priests.

As opposed to merely fleecing and slaughtering them, as the Leaders of our world do.

And yet…

And yet…

… Meets the Sword of the Lord

I once owned an ewe whose conduct exactly typified this sort of person. She was one of the most attractive sheep that ever belonged to me. Her body was beautifully proportioned. She had a strong constitution and an excellent coat of wool. Her head was clean, alert, well-set with bright eyes. She bore sturdy lambs that matured rapidly.

But in spite of all these attractive attributes she had one pronounced fault. She was restless — discontented — a fence crawler. So much so that I came to call her ‘Mrs. Gad-about.’ This one ewe produced more problems for me than almost all the rest of the flock combined.

No matter what field or pasture the sheep were in, she would search all along the fences or shoreline (we lived by the sea) looking for a loophole she could crawl through and start to feed on the other side.

It was not that she lacked pasturage. My fields were my joy and delight. No sheep in the district had better grazing. With ‘Mrs. Gad-about’ it was an ingrained habit. She was simply never contented with things as they were. Often when she had forced her way through some such spot in a fence or found a way through the end of the wire at low tide on the beaches, she would end up feeding on bare, brown, burned-up pasturage of a most inferior sort. But she never learned her lesson and continued to fence crawl time after time.

Now it would have been bad enough if she was the only one that did this. It was a sufficient problem to find her and bring her back. But the further point was that she taught her lambs the same tricks. They simply followed her example and soon were as skilled at escaping as their mother.

Even worse, however, was the example she set the other sheep. In a short time she began to lead others through the same holes and over the same dangerous paths down by the sea.

After putting up with her perverseness for a summer, I finally came to the conclusion that to save the rest of the flock from being unsettled, she would have to go.

… it was a difficult decision … I loved her in the same way I loved the rest. Her strength and beauty and alertness were a delight to the eye. But one morning, I took the killing knife in hand and butchered her. It was the only solution to the dilemma.

From A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller

I will never understand people who confuses God with Santa Claus.

Or some sort of wish-fulfillment genie.

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